07 November 2007

Vending Around the World

Okay. Enough about seasonal fare for the moment. Now that I have this platform I want to ask you a question I have been wondering about for years? Tell me, have you ever seen a vending machine that claims to make piping hot french fries in 45 seconds...and delivers? I have!!

A few years ago my family traveled to Melk, Austria. We had just experienced a day of wonder and inspiration, a picture perfect page from an album of family vacation memories. The weather was good, the sky was blue. We saw some beautiful sites, read about history, learned a little, played a little, got a little lost and then found our way back again. We moved at our own pace, sometimes running, sometimes standing still until we happened back to the little train station in town a short while before our train would arrive.

The station was small so we were just passing the time, making sure we had everything, trying to read the signs in a language we didn't really understand, counting the foreign coins in our pockets and looking for a snack or a drink to buy. We slowly ambled through the station to the platform and stood there talking when someone said, "Look at that!" We turned and saw an odd looking vending machine with a large picture of french fries on the front. Could it be? Could you actually buy edible french fries from a vending machine on a train platform in Melk, Austria?

We consulted my oldest son who understands the language. He carefully read the writing on the machine and assured us that it did indeed promise to produce french fries in a mere "45 sekunden".

This we had to see! We had time. We had nothing else to do. We dug in our pockets and collectively came up with the right amount of change in euros to give it a try.

Sure enough, after the plink of coins, the sounds of mechanical operation, and the promised amount of time, a cup of hot french fries appeared behind a door near the bottom left of the machine. On the right the machine spit out a package of ketchup and salt.

What's more, the french fries, or pommes frites as they are called in Austria, tasted pretty good! It is surprising how good something unexpected can taste when you are out of your element, busy and engaged, in a country far from home. It was amazing! We were thrilled and amused to find such an unexpected treat while waiting for our train on a Sunday afternoon. We documented the event with our camera and shared our cup of french fries between us. Soon our train arrived and we rode back to Vienna, satisfied and charmed by the wonderful diversity of details that travel often acquaints us with.

1 comment:

Alanna said...

Ha! The weirdest thing I've seen come out of a vending machine is bait. Yes, that bait. Worms and crawly things, in a Chinese-rice kind of cardboard box. You've got me starving for French fries, I wonder what time the McD's drive-through closes down ...